The Great Road Trip of 2013–Part 1–North Carolina

Its been a week now since hubs and I returned from our adventure on the road and I thought it was time to share a few pictures from our travels. Since we were stopping off to see family along the way (in North Carolina), I was a bit concerned about gaining weight while on our trip. You know how it is when you’re staying with family or friends. We adopt a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality about food, eating whatever is put before us, and being grateful for whatever we have. My first picture is of the house where we stayed.  It sits on 2 acres of very sandy land, full of ant hills.  No cellar, which kinda scares me, but it was a good buy when purchased and a warm and inviting home to visit. We enjoyed our stay at J & L’s.

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That second picture shows hubs next to the Ford Escape we rented for the trip.  I used my credit card reward miles to purchase it (woohoo, I’d never done that before), so all we had to pay for was the gas we put in the tank and the added insurance we purchased.  Hubs liked it. Me, not so much. I thought the visibility factor was poor, and the side windows too small.

When I was over 300 lbs and we went to visit family, I always kept a stash of candy, pop tarts, gum, and cash with me. It was nothing for me to make an excuse and go to the grocery store to stock up on what had already disappeared the first night we were there. I was easily overwhelmed by life in those days, and sugar was my drug of choice to calm those frayed nerves.  I ate a lot!

One time, when traveling with family, I remember forcing my husband to go with me the morning we were scheduled to head back home and get a load of sweets for the trip: candy, snack crackers, soda, and grapes. I’m not sure how anything so good for you as grapes entered the mix, but I was NOT going to travel hundreds of miles back home with family members growling the whole time because they wanted to eat. My poor mom had diabetes when we made that trip, but I didn’t care. I knew food (sugar) was a mood-altering drug and I was going to use it to alter a few moods. I knew nothing then of the devastating hunger that can be caused by low blood sugar.  I was ignorant and acted in ignorance. Oh, how things have changed since those dysfunctional days of hypereating. And a good thing too! This trip, there were no sweets along for the ride. Only whole, raw almonds that were used to supplement pancakes in the morning on the two days we ate breakfast while visiting with family.

I actually lost five pounds while traveling, but part of that was due to being sick.  Better than gaining, for sure, but not the best way to make it happen.  You can read about that here, as well as other aspects of the trip.  Now, for more pictures.

Here is a shot of me from the top of Grandfather Mountain, near Boone, NC. Gorgeous spot, especially this time of year.

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That one is a little out of focus. Better, is this shot of me with some perspective on the altitude around the peak of GM.DSC_1025

Does that rock make me look fat?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  😉

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Hubs has his own picture atop the rocks of Grandfather Mountain.

I would highly recommend this state park, nestled in the northwest corner of NC.  They have a wild life habitat, many scenic look outs, the Mile High swinging bridge, and picnic areas and hiking trails, among other things to enjoy.  We were struck by the many, many Rhododendron that lined the roadway heading to the mouth of the park.  These normally gorgeous flowers were all gone by the time we got to the mountain, but in my mind’s eye I could imagine what the path would have looked like in the spring and it was spectacular.

Coming down the mountain, I took this picture by covering my camera lens with my amber sunglasses.  I have got to get some lens filters soon. Maybe for Christmas this year.

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This is a shot of the Mile High swinging bridge that sets atop Grandfather Mountain and bridges a deep cavern between the rock formations.  We would have loved to load up some of those rocks and take them home to Pennsylvania, but I fear they would have smooshed the Ford Escape we were driving, if we could have loaded them.  We took lots of pictures of the outcroppings on the hilltop.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, with clear skies and a cool breeze while we were there. Perfect weather for exploring, and the perfect environment to explore.

I hadn’t gotten sick yet when we visited Grandfather Mountain State Park.  :/

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One of the most amazing things for me about this part of the trip is that I was able to walk around, even climb across rocky terrain, during our time on the mountain.  Back in the day, when I weighed over 300 lbs, that would not have been enjoyable for me.  Some days, it would not even have been possible.  I remember getting winded very easily back then, with the least bit of exercise.  And my knees, well, they groaned all the time.  Not this time, though.  We walked, we hiked, we climbed, we sat on the front porch of the ice cream and fudge shop in rocking chairs and rocked, and most of all we enjoyed each other’s company and the many memories we were making together.  It’s amazing what losing a hundred pounds can do for your energy levels and your ability to truly see the world.  In the old days, I saw everything through a sugary haze.  Now, I see it through a filter of possibility and I wonder:  If I could do this, what more might I do?

Later this week or early next week I will blog part 2 or the Great Road Trip of 2013.  For now, I think I’ll sit back and remember Boone, NC, Grandfather Moutain, how it felt to be a mile high in the air on a swinging bridge, and how grateful I am that on this day, in this place, I was able to take the stairs, instead of the elevator.

Ah, the taste of success.  The flavor is pretty good!

Unprocessed October Update

It’s been days since my last blog post, so I want to catch up a little this morning.

Between the big road trip of 2013, getting sick while on the road, coming back to work with a stack of stuff to catch up on, and preparing for minor surgery to have those pesky moles removed (happening this afternoon), life has been wayyyy more busy in my corner of the world than I would like it to be.  I’m exhausted.

I can’t believe that I decided to do the Unprocessed October challenge in the same month that all this stuff was going on–was I crazy?  I have to admit that I have not done nearly as well as I had hoped on this challenge.  Being away from home for so many days, I have eaten things I never would have eaten on this challenge, and I have had my meals dictated for me on several occasions.  I have to admit though, the times when I sat down to a meal family fixed, the food was good. Better than good–delicious.

During the big road trip of 2013, we rented a car and drove to North Carolina, where we spent two and a half days with family.  My niece is eating whole and healthy these days, so while we were there we enjoyed steaks and baked potatoes, egg and pancake breakfasts with fresh fruit, a sweet potato quinoa and kale dish that was fabulous, and lots and lots of hugs.  It was good catching up with everyone and meeting new members of the family.

After leaving there, we traveled to Grandfather Mountain, outside Boone, NC.  If you have never been to this beautiful piece of property in the south, oh, my, you must go.  It was just gorgeous this time of year, with the temperatures in a comfortable range and the fall leaves in full foliage.  Breathtaking, really.  There are many hiking trails, a mile-high swinging bridge, a wild life habitat with a new bald eagle, bears, and mountain lions, and some of the best cherry cider this gal has ever tasted.  We loved our time on Grandfather Mountain.

After leaving Boone, we traveling through TN, VA, WV, and on to Baltimore, MD. We hoped to visit the inner harbor at Baltimore, but by that time I was pretty sick with the stomach bug/flu, and my hubs hates inner city life. We finally decided to can the plan to visit the harbor, and headed north to Lancaster, PA instead.  Along the way, we saw the Conowingo Dam and hydroelectric plant outside Lancaster. Hubby was really impressed with this site and enjoyed talking about it with family when we had returned home.  We also visited a Harley Davidson shop along the way and watch as the PA state police helicopter got ready to take off.  Isn’t it funny how the little things in life mean so much to us?

As I mentioned earlier, I was sick while we were on the road. Ugh!  I worried before I left that I would gain weight while on vacation, because I knew even though we would try to make good food choices, we were going to eat out a lot–no doubt about it.  Had too, and anyway, that’s what road trips are all about, along with burning up tires and seeing lots of interstates.  I actually ended up losing 5 lbs while I was away, due in part to lack of appetite and that stupid stomach bug which is still with me, but in small part, today.

I took Bob to see the Sight and Sound theatre while we were in Lancaster. We couldn’t take in the show though. They were totally sold out, as they are many weekends and through the summer.  I would love to go for their Christmas show this year, but we’ll see.  It’s a long ride from home, and winter driving in PA is iffy, at best.  I love live theatre!

We were back home by Sunday evening and I was sooo, sooo happy to be sleeping in my own bed.

Unprocessed October has been a dream for me during 2013, but I can’t really yet claim it as a reality.  I have tried to eat clean and stay unprocessed, but I have not been 100% by any stretch of the imagination.  I still have 8 days to go in the challenge, but will be on the road again this weekend, so I don’t know how smoothly that will go. I have a birthday celebration to attend on Saturday and will be eating at another’s house all weekend.  I guess the best I can say right now is that I am being as diligent as I can be with this challenge, and trying to get better before I have to head out again, for my next road trip. This one will only be 3 hrs from home and I do it all the time, so I’m not worried.

How have you done with your eating this month?

Do you like road trip?  What is your favorite part of traveling?

Have a great weekend, everyone. I will try to post again next week. Until then, eat well and don’t forget: Change is Possible!

 

Day 8 October Unprocessed

Okay, so today is Day 8 of October Unprocessed, and take-out won a half victory.

I stopped.

I bought.

I ate, but only part of what I’d bought.

I did it.  Me.  I can admit it.  I’m a big girl, and responsible for my actions.  I was weak today.  I wanted an easier path.  I thought it would be easy to exchange currency for take-out and then nibble…taste…eat, but when I tried, I thought, “No, I can’t do this!”  I didn’t want to do it.  It was time again to deal with this bad habit, this behavior…

Once more, I had to quit the sabotage. 

This is the life of a compulsive overeater.  You get to stop and start and stop overeating over and over again until your miracle of abstinence sticks.  Its a hard process, it can be a long process, but its the only way I have ever found to address the compulsion in me.  Believe me, I have tried other ways–they just don’t work for me.  

This morning, I quit the take-out almost before it began. It was epic!

This is a victory for me. 

Eating those first compulsive bites of take-out this morning was like eating sawdust. I knew I shouldn’t. I knew I didn’t want to. I knew habitual ways of acting and behaving had taken me over.  I knew.  It took those first few bites to really know, KNOW, but I knew. And I’m glad.

Yep, glad.

I’m glad I bought take-out this morning, because with that breakfast wrap came another valuable lesson. Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels. 

Back to my regularly scheduled life, I go.  My “normal” home-made, whole, raw, nutritious and during October, unprocessed, life. The life that begets life. The life that makes me able to escape life with diabetes. The life that provides my miracle of recovery from food obsession.  That wonderful, healthy, sane, and stable life that’s worth the effort I put into it and rewards me accordingly.  That life!

 

TAKE OUT tease and what to do about it.

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Today is Day 4 of the challenge, and I’m holding steady with my unprocessed eating, but not exactly giddy with the plan. This morning, I had the same breakfast I had three times this week: warm oatmeal with grapes and raspberries on top; a few walnuts were in the mix, along with almond milk, but this morning it wasn’t as delicious as it was earlier in the week. Maybe because I made the oatmeal before I left the house this morning, and the other days I had made it the night before. Could it really affect the taste of the cooked oats that much by stewing overnight? Today, it was bland, which left me feeling deprived and like I wished I had gotten TAKE OUT on my way into the office.

I didn’t get TAKE OUT, because I’ve made the pledge, but I wanted to get TAKE OUT.

My calorie allowance will allow TAKE OUT, but TAKE OUT is highly processed, and I’m eating unprocessed as much as I can during October Unprocessed.

Still, the TAKE OUT tease was playing in my head all morning long.  I hate it!

I’ve tried all day long to turn down the volume on the TAKE OUT tease that has been going on inside me.  It’s dangerous for me to be in this place mentally, but if I am ever going to beat these food habits of mine I know I have to face them down and stand my ground. They won’t go away on their own. I will have to do battle with them, and win, in order to be free of them. The TAKE OUT tease is just another habit I have, a mental habit I have given in to too long.  During October Unprocessed, I’m picking up my sword and walking out onto the battlefield. I will not be defeated by fast food. For crying out loud, it doesn’t even taste good, so why am I so addicted?

Part of the answer to that question is convenience. The other part is habit.

I know this, but I hate it.

This challenge is a difficult one. It’s not that I’m being hammered by anyone to toe the line on a daily basis. Nothing like that, but for years I have enjoyed a mindless way of eating. There were decades where I didn’t think anything about eating, unless I had to make a dish-to-pass for a church potluck, or maybe was asked to share something at a family reunion. Other than that, I ate what I wanted, when I wanted it, and gained 100 plus pounds doing it. It was all good, until it wasn’t, and medical problems began to set in. Then, a change had to be made.

This challenge is all about being mindful of the foods you put in your pie hole.

Ugh, such a hard assignment for someone who enjoys flying by the seat of her pants and eating spontaneously.

It’s easy to be spontaneous with food, isn’t it?  So much harder to get out the whip and make it behave.

Here’s the thing: Don’t let anyone ever tell you that changing the way you interact with food is going to be easy. It’s not.

It is doable.

It can be refreshing.

If I can do it, anyone can, but it is not easy all the time. It is not easy much of the time. And it is especially not easy when you are so focused on breaking old habits and eating the way October Unprocessed is asking me to eat.

I’m not whining, I’m just saying–it’s NOT EASY!

So what do you do to make it through?

For me, support is numero uno.

I need to do this with other people. I need the encouragement and the challenge they provide. I need to know I’m not alone in this. I need guidance, and accountability. I need structure and the promise of sustainability. I have a support group, actually three of them, that I use depending on the need. They are made up of friends, fellow sufferers, others of my ilk, all of us trying to eat the right things and recover the health we once had in abundance, but lost through blind, stupid, ignorant eating.  I highly recommend bringing others into your eating paradigm. Ya never know, they may just teach you a thing or two about yourself along the way to healthy. I know my supporters have taught me.

But what else? What else is needed to do this thing that is so necessary, but not easy?  I wonder, what do you do?

How do you change something about yourself that is so deeply engrained as to have altered your life for years?  Its like food was my lover, and now that lover has flown off to an other’s arms and left me sad and crying.

Do you grieve food lost to you?

Do you hate yourself for feel bad about grieving over food lost to you?

Are you stronger than me?  If so, how did you get there from where you were?  I want to know. Can your actions be repeated by me, and can success come of it?

These are the questions I pose on Day 4 of October Unprocessed.  Please, share freely…

Day 3

Today is day three of October Unprocessed, and I am feeling strong. I have one slip to report since my pledge to eat unprocessed in October 2013.  I ate salsa and a wee bit o cheese on my WW tortilla shell for supper last night. I’m not sure they are forbidden in the challenge, but I’m pretty sure cheese is, so I need to check that out today.

I did something unconventional (for me), for breakfast this morning. I forgot to cook my oats to take to work with me today, so I stopped by a store and picked up 2 hard-boiled eggs in a plastic pouch, and had them together with raw walnuts and a nut and seed bar from Kashi. That bar probably wasn’t unprocessed either, but it was low in sugar and full of fiber, and a better deal that the take-out window offers at Dunkin Donuts, so I’m okay with it.

I could have eaten the apple I didn’t get to yesterday, but I was pretty darn sure it would not hold me until lunch.

It feels weird to experiment with meal types on this food plan/challenge. For a while now, I have wanted to move away from the SAD (Standard American Diet) way of thinking and more toward unconventional eating at breakfast, but it seems so weird to me. Very weird, to be eating walnuts at breakfast. Not something I have done before. We never added nuts to breakfast foods when I was a kid, unless it was that we were eating another sticky bun for breakfast. Yes, my mom was a great baker, so we had home-made breads and pastries coming out the wazoo when I was a kid, and we were encouraged to eat, eat, eat, and eat that stuff. Not that anyone shoved it down my pie hole; the more for them, If I didn’t get to it before they did. They didn’t have to force me to eat what mom baked.  I was a sugar addict, mom kept baking, the house kept smelling incredible, and I kept eating. And eating. And eating. AND EATING!!!

315 pounds of eating is a lot of eating!  Some of that weight developed through eating whole batches of oatmeal raising cookies I baked myself when I was pregnant and alone all day at eighteen.   Oh, the cookies I ate. Enough to sink a battle ship.  They were good, but oh so fattening.  And I am convinced they set me up for high blood pressure and a host of other aches and ailments, including panic attacks.

I am soooo glad to be past that phase of life! Sooo glad!

These days, I’m eating differently.

I’m trying to shake things up.

I’m quitting my sugar addition.

I’m trying to lose weight and get healthy by choosing more wisely the things I put in my body.

So far, October Unprocessed is going well. I may not have been squeaky clean in my eating these past 2.5 days, but I have been pretty darn close.

I’ve lost 1 lb! Yay!

We will see where this goes and I will keep reporting my successes and failures, so please keep reading.

I hope to post my review of The End of Diabetes, by Joel Furhman sometimes this week. Good book. I would recommend it. Some reservations, but overall, exactly what I have been learning for the last 3.5 years. For me, a raw, whole, plant-based diet works. Look for the book review later today or Friday. I hope I can get it posted by then.

Good eats, everyone!   Enjoy this beautiful day.

First Day Frustrations and the Dirty Dozen Difficulties I encountered while trying to eat right

Yesterday was the first day of the October Unprocessed challenge, and this year I have signed the pledge. During October I will be avoiding processed foods as much as is humanly possible. Well, for me, that is.

Going into the challenge this year, I was confident. I have been eating this way most of the time for three years now, so I am accustomed to shopping, preparing meals, and eating in an unprocessed way. Still, there are some hold outs in my food plan; places where I take the road more often traveled by people who aren’t concerned with weight and health issues like I am. For me, keeping on top of the weight and the consumption of sugar and junk is literally a life and death decision. I have to eat right and exercise to keep the diabetes at bay, so I do, most of the time. Mornings, however, are rough for me. I work outside the home and I have a 40 minute commute. That means that in the morning, I’m rushing around like a chicken with no head from the time I force myself to leave my warm covers, until I pop in the door at work and settle in with my morning routine. In the morning, when it’s time to eat, I want easy!

Easy for me is spelled TAKE-OUT.

My usual is a breakfast wrap from the local coffee shop; a small tortilla, a half piece of sausage, an egg, and some cheese. I eat this with my morning coffee and I’m set until lunch. I’m not doing this during October Unprocessed.

Is there a bond between eating and emotional responses? For me, the answer is a definite YES. In the past, when I was hungry, angry, lonely, bored, happy, sad, frustrated, or pressed for time, I ate all the wrong things. I ate the wrong things, in the wrong amounts, with devastating results. I gained more and more weight, until I tipped the scale at 315 lbs. I was fat, unhappy, sick, and ignorant of all the things others knew about nutrition, whole foods, moderate exercise, and my responsibility to get and keep myself healthy.

I didn’t know.

That might seem like a cop-out or excuse to some. Make of it what you will, but I promise you, I didn’t know. I had been raised by an unhealthy, unorganized, and unhappy mother. I never learned what it was to live a healthy life. I didn’t have that life patterned for me, and no one, ever, stepped in to adjust what was going on. Well, I take that back. My fraternal grandmother tried, but you can imagine how that went over at home. My parents divorced when I was five.

My family history is long and complicated, but I don’t want to bore you with that, so I won’t go there. Suffice it to say, my relationship with food has definitely been emotionally charged for as long as I can remember, so when I have a day like I had yesterday, it’s a challenge for me. Even without the October Unprocessed pledge I made, but especially in light of that pledge to stay away from processed, easy, fast foods this month.

To give you some insight into my frustrations, I thought I’d share my dirty dozen mishaps from yesterday here; events that fueled emotional responses with food.

Note: I did not overeat yesterday, and I did not eat fast food or the other types of foods I had decided to abstain from during October.

My take-away from yesterday, as I reflect on the day this morning: I did it! I’m proud of myself for that. This morning, that temptation to get take out with my coffee was strong. My response was to forego the coffee shop and have hot tea with my breakfast.  I couldn’t trust myself in the coffee shop. Can you relate?

I’m slowly learning to break bad habits.

This was my day yesterday:
1. Flat tire at the coffee shop. My second in two weeks. Last winter I had three in one month. Ugh.

2. Can’t reach hubby on cell, and can’t change tire by myself.

3. Call co-worker to come get me. I will now have to make up 30 minutes at the end of the day.

4. Busy, busy, BUSY day at the office. I didn’t get everything done. A friend wants me to meet her after I get out of the office. Problem is, I have to work late, but meet her after that, anyway.

5. I have a meeting after work, a dinner meeting that I have to rush around to make by 6:15pm.

6. I get home to a house smelling of bleach. Oh, yeah, we bleached the water lines after installing a black light to help with contaminants from our well water. I had forgotten that was happening today.

7. I decide to shower before going to dinner, but no. The water in master bath commode looks like it’s been scooped out of a mud puddle. Hubby has left the water on too long when running the bleach out of the pipes.

8. I call to hubs, to discuss this with him, and find out how long the faucets have been running full-bore. Okay, so I’m ticked. Wouldn’t you be? I NEED to wash my hair.

9. A fight disagreement ensues, as I realize for the first time that a beeper is going off. We don’t know where the noise is coming from. It’s the black light in the cellar. We check it and the filters-two of them-are black with sediment from the well. Everything that has been done thus far to sanitize the drinking water is now for naught, because the water has run too long and the pipes are now full of dirty sludge. We will have to go through all this again in 4-5 days.

10. Numerous evil thoughts run through my mind concerning my husband, at the same time he bumps his head on beam down in the basement and leaves a huge goose egg. I’m late for dinner. As hubby heads out to figure out the water sitch with his pal, Maynard, our dog sneaks out the front door and takes off like bullet across the pasture field. After EIGHT WEEKS of training, he still refuses to come when he’s called.

11. We have to go out to the car, open the door and yell to dog to go for a ride, because it is the ONLY thing he responds to when he’s being naughty. Then, we must take him for a ride, because if we promise but don’t follow through, he will quickly lose interest in this too and become road pizza. And while I like pizza, and I do not like house pet pizza. Note: the ride was very short, as was my temper by this time.

12. Dog is finally caught, I am ready to leave, I open the door and out he shoots again, for round two of naughty dog antics that make masters into monsters. No joke! Today? Right now? When I’m hungry? Is someone taping this, because I think we could qualify for America’s Funniest Videos!!!

I finally left the house hungry, angry, lonely (why can’t anyone do what you ask them to do—these kinda questions create isolation), and completely frustrated, then had to eat a stinkin’ salad with soup for dinner. Really?!

Some days are like this. It’s life, on life’s terms.

Hoping today will be better.  I really want to be able to finish October Unprocessed clean.